I’m so excited to be participating in my first ever blog book tour! A million thanks to Wednesday Books for providing the finished copy as the prize!
Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking as been on my radar since I first heard about it a few months ago. I don’t see many books with a focus on Norse mythology, so it was a no-brainer to add this book to my TBR!
Check out my review below and be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour and enter to win your very own copy of Between the Blade and the Heart below!
Title: Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected release date: January 2, 2018 (tomorrow!)
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, urban fantasy
Length: 319 pages
Synopsis: (provided by the publisher)
“When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested
Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.
As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.”
Well, to say I was a bit disappointed would be right. From the synopsis, I definitely did not expect it to be an urban fantasy. While those are okay, it’s not what I typically read. Truthfully, I was expecting a bit of historical fiction, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Here’s what I did like: the mythology and all the supernatural creatures. I don’t read many books that center around Norse mythology, so it was fun to explore and learn more about it in this book. I liked the whole idea of Valkyries returning immortals to the underworld and the heavy task that weighs on the protagonist, Malin’s, heart. However, I was very skeptical of her mother, Marlow, and what went on her “training.”
The relationships in the this book, at leas the romantic and familial ones, seem very forced and not at all fleshed out. I did enjoy Malin’s friendship with her roommate, Oona, and how they depended on one another a great deal, especially as the story progressed. But the introduction of Asher, and Malin’s own conflicted feelings about her ex-girlfriend, really threw me for a loop. I longed for something deeper and stronger, but I didn’t get that here. As I said before, it felt forced and most of it happened too quickly.
As for the world-building, I think it could do with a bit more of work. Maybe we’ll get more of it in book 2, but at this rate, I’m not overly excited about it (though the cover looks beautiful). I liked the whole concept of nothing is really secret: there are mortals (human or otherwise), immortals, and supernatural creatures. Everyone knows about the Valkyries and the general acceptance of the supernatural was nice to read about. Yet the setting… Where does this take place? Obviously the U.S., but I need more specifics. There’s also a bit of a sci-fi element with the hover cars and technology, which I liked, but also, still foggy.
In terms of the writing style… Very simple and easy to read. This isn’t a book filled with purple prose, and I think the book could have done with something…more. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the writing at all, though it did make this book a quick read.
We do get the hint that something isn’t quite right here, and we had but a taste of what it could be. I imagine book 2 will be an explosive, eye-opening read, but I’m not eager to add this book to my shelf. I’m interested enough in book 2 to keep an eye out for it, but not in a rush for it to release as book 1 lacked in a variety of areas that would made me give this book a higher rating.
You can pre-order this book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, Powells, or other booksellers.
As a bonus, here’s an excerpt from the book:
The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.
In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.
My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.
The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.
“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.
The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.
My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.
The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.
My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-made from an army supply store, to match her own.
The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.
The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.
It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.
“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.
The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.
Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.
He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.
I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.
I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.
“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.
“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”
“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”
“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.
His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.
My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.
Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.
And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.
“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”
Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.
Giveaway rules: 1 winner will receive a finished, paperback copy of BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART. U.S. only. Ends on 01/12/2018. Winner will be contacted directly by me so please provide an accurate e-mail address. Click the link below to enter!
December 26: Review + Giveaway on LoveyDoveyBooks
Excerpt + Giveaway on Literary Meanderings
December 27: Summary, Q&A w/ Amanda, + Excerpt at The Northern Witch’s Book Blog
Author Q&A + Excerpt at Read. Eat. Love.
December 28: Review, Excerpt, + Giveaway at Bookcrushin’
January 1: Review, Excerpt, + Giveaway at A Myriad of Books (You are here!)
January 2: Review, Excerpt, + Giveaway at Fiktshun
January 3: Review, Excerpt, + Giveaway at Reading with Rendz
Review, Excerpt, + Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream
Excerpt + Giveaway at CreatyveBooks
12 thoughts on “BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART Review, Excerpt, + Giveaway!”
I’m sad to hear this one didn’t quite live up to expectations! All these Norse-related books coming out (like Sky in the Deep, etc.) in 2018 is kinda cool though! I haven’t read much of Norse mythology myself, but it sounds interesting. It seems like this book suffers from a poor mixing of genres just like I experienced with The Hazel Wood. Great review!
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Me too! I am excited for Sky in the Deep, though! I’m sad you didn’t like The Hazel Wood. It seems like that book is either a “you love it or you hate it” type of book.
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I think it definitely is!
Can’t wait to read this!
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I’ve been an Amanda Hocking fan since I first read her Trylle trilogy, so to say that I am excited to read this is an understatement.
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I’m glad I read your review! I feel like going into reading it knowing that it’s an urban fantasy will be helpful 🙂
I think you are the first one to mention that this is an urban fantasy. I love to read UF, so that’s not a problem but I can see where it would be weird to go into the book expecting one thing and getting another.
I am looking forward to reading this book mostly because of the Norse mythology in it – which I have to admit I don’t know that much about, which makes me want to learn more about it. =)
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It definitely gives off those UF vibes! It’s not strictly fantasy (which made it a bit of a let-down for me). But I hope you enjoy it!
I’m excited to read this! I’ve read 2 of her other series and enjoyed the worlds she created!